That's me, letting my breath out. I'd been holding it for a while, waiting for the Presidential election results to be announced.
One that will save us from self-destruction. We'll soon have an intelligent adult running the government again. One who can start repairing the devastating damage inflicted on our health, safety and environment the past four years.
Glad I managed to last this long under such adverse conditions. There were some pretty depressing days when I wasn't proud to be an American.
I'm not usually a quitter, but I confess I considered packing a bag, grabbing my passport and leaving the U.S. for good. Escape seemed the only solution to salvage my physical, mental and economic well-being. And, I wasn't alone. There were nine-million Americans already living abroad as of June 2020.
Since 2016, I've been checking immigration laws to see which countries would welcome Americans seeking political asylum. I'd had enough of the hateful, hurtful, harmful rhetoric being tweeted and sanctioned by the president.
It seemed time to move someplace with a stable government. Somewhere I could afford-- that wouldn't deplete my meager retiree's income and savings. A place with warm temperatures year around, and a lake, sea or ocean.
Canada was my top choice. Our friendly neighbors to the north have been sympathetic during the tumultuous Trump years. They've posted humorous memes to lift our spirits. Lately, they'd offered to provide Americans emotional support Canadians while the presidential votes were being counted.
What a relief, eh?
Who wouldn't want to live in a country that's provided $1,433 a month to financially help its citizens through the coronavirus crisis? Compare that to the U.S.'s pathetic one-time $1,200 stimulus payment.
Since the Canadian border has been closed because of COVID-19, it was impossible to scout specific locations for my new home. Fortunately, I've traveled to several provinces which seemed suitable spots for a snowbird to nest, if not become a resident.
Before kids, Mason and I embarked on a road trip to Canada. We'd planned to drive his compact Honda Civic to Quebec City. We got as far as Toronto in the cramped car before we abandoned it in a long-term parking garage and hopped a train. On board, we could sit back, enjoy the scenery or wander through the spotlessly clean train cars.
We arrived, rested, relaxed, and able to enjoy exploring the city with its old European-like charm. Stone buildings. Cobblestone streets. Horse-drawn carriage rides. Watching the daily changing of the guard at La Citadelle, which was as entertaining as that at Buckingham Palace.
Then, for one memorable wedding anniversary, Mason and I took a WEKU-sponsored bus trip to Stratford for its fall Shakespeare Festival. Quaint town, perfect for strolling. Local artisans selling their crafts. Phenomenal plays.
I'd also traveled to Montreal for a professional conference, but it was mostly business with little time for sightseeing. I did manage to stroll through the awesome Botanical Gardens with their colorful flowers, impressive sculptures and wonderful waterfalls.
Now, I don't want to deceive you.
You can't just drive to Canada and set up housekeeping, even if the border was open. You have to fill out a questionnaire and score 67 out of 100 to even be considered.
Canada awards different kinds of visas: visitor, work or study. Since it's considered the most intellectual nation, Canadians prefer folks with college degrees, educators, skilled workers and tradesmen. It's also easier to get accepted if you have a family member already living there who will vouch for you.
There are some drawbacks, though.
I worry about the cold. I don't do well when temperatures drop below 50. I want to live somewhere that people don't know what a snow shovel is.
While I enjoy maple syrup, I'm not a hockey fan. I watched one Thoroughblades game in Rupp Arena years ago and it was too brutal for my taste.
Then there's that pesky problem of learning another language. This time, French. I've been investing 20-minutes a day brushing up on my Spanish to travel around Europe when my daughter finishes her teaching duties in Madrid this summer.
I don't think my brain can handle learning French as well.
Other countries popped up on my relocation radar, including New Zealand, Germany and Portugal. Most insist you prove you're financially stable so you're not a drain on their government. Chile and Ireland have programs that might pay you to start a business there.
"International Living" cautions against making a hasty decision about moving. Editors suggest several exploratory visits, of several months each, to immerse yourself in the town, people and culture you're considering. That provides a more realistic view than a two-week vacation.
In the meantime, I'm hoping the quality of living will drastically improve soon in the U.S., and I can just stay at home.